The stunning news came on the morning of Sunday, Jan. 26 when TMZ broke the story that Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Bryant had been involved in a deadly helicopter crash that had accounted for the death of nine people. Since the tragic death of the beloved basketball star and his daughter, the world has mourned and tried to come to grips with the reality of a world without Bryant.
Bryant left a legacy both on and off of the court. He was drafted out of Lower Merion High School located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania by the Charlotte Hornets with the 13th pick in the 1996 draft. However, Bryant was immediately traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. After that, he hit the ground running and became one of the best players to ever suit up in the National Basketball Association (NBA).
Bryant’s career consisted of twenty story book years with the Lakers, in which he seemingly never even considered the thought of wearing the uniform of another team. He embraced the city of Los Angeles and carried them on a joy-ride that other franchises can only dream about. In Bryant’s time as a Laker he won five NBA championships, was an 18-time All-Star, 15-time member of the All-NBA team and was the 2008 NBA Most Valuable Player according to NBC Sports Northwest.
On the court, Bryant will be remembered for raising banners and creating a championship culture and mentality among his teammates and fans. In an interview with The New York Post, Bryant’s head coach with the Lakers, Phil Jackson, stated “Kobe was a chosen one.” Another storied NBA head coach who has multiple NBA championships, Greg Popovich, had similar glowing remarks on the impact that Bryant had on the world. He stated in an interview with NBC Sports Northwest, “Young kids on your team idolized him and looked up to him. The older ones knew him, and talked to him and had relationships with him. No matter which one of those groups you belong to, it was a tragic shock.”
Not only was Bryant a tremendous basketball player, he was also an all-star throughout the community. Bryant and his wife, Vanessa Bryant, created a foundation in 2007, named The Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation. According to People.com, the foundation’s main focus has been to keep young kids active in sports. His foundation has also donated to causes such as helping the homeless, at-risk families and under-privileged communities in the Los Angeles area.
The fatal crash also took the life of future basketball phenom and daughter of the king of basketball, 13 year old Gianna Bryant. She was a young superstar who hoped to follow in the footsteps of her dad and leave behind the same legacy that he left behind. She was a big fan of the University of Connecticut (UCONN) women’s basketball program and aspired to possibly play for them one day. In an interview done by Sports Illustrated with UCONN star player Crystal Dangerfield, she stated that she believed that Gianna Bryant would one day suit up in a UCONN Huskies uniform. Dangerfield stated “The love you saw when she came through the gym, we knew that she really wanted to be a part of this someday… That was probably the biggest thing that hit for me. She won’t have that opportunity.”
Bryant’s legacy will be forever imprinted on the world of basketball. His legacy will live on as many players can only strive to leave half of the impact that he left on the world. As stated best by Lebron James in his speech addressed to Staples Center, “So in the words of Kobe Bryant, ‘Mamba out.’ But in the words of us, ‘Not forgotten.’ Live on Brother.”